Elevating your online health brand

In recent research conducted by Capstrat, we found that consumers have definite preferences and attitudes about sources of healthcare information. Not surprisingly, healthcare professionals – doctors, physicians and nurses – are viewed as reliable sources.

However, the Web is also an important source. In fact, our research showed that Google ranked second only to doctors as the first choice for health information. Some argue that Google isn’t a source, but a route to sources. So Google may be a proxy for a whole series of online resources. Fair enough.

But what about the online sources? Evaluated individually, many aren’t deemed reliable. For example, for all the noise about social media, online forums are considered reliable by only 37% of adults. Web sites from insurers meet with similar skepticism.

So, if you’re managing an online forum or online health brand, what can you do to improve your credibility in the crowded marketplace.

Our research suggests you should strongly consider partnerships with organizations consumers already find credible. Partnerships have long been a way for companies to elevate their brand. There’s an opportunity for online health brands, insurers, pharmaceutical companies and others to be viewed as more trustworthy by partnering with the sources consumers trust. That could be well known academic health systems, research organizations or health advocacy groups.

Find your sweet spot. There are a tremendous number of sources of health information on the web. The market does not need another general source. Find your brand’s sweet spot and focus your content and online service offering there. It could be a specific condition or demographic focus. For payers, it could be advice on navigating the system, particularly where to find affordable care and products.

Tap into community. Information alone is no longer adequate for online content. Community is the new currency. Look at the communities that are currently strongly linked to your brand. Where are they congregating online? What are their pain points? Is there a forum you can provide to serve and engage your communities.

What other ways can health brands improve their online credibility? I’d love to hear your ideas. And, here's more information on the research .